King Digital Outspends Microsoft, Sony With TV Ads

When it comes to television advertising for video games, there’s no shortage of them. Microsoft has plenty of Xbox One ads to go around, and Activision has been giving a big push to its first-person shooter Destiny with a fun live-action ad. However, when it comes to how much is actually spent on these ads, no one can top King Digital Entertainment.

Starting earlier this year, the publisher of Farm Heroes Saga and Candy Crush Saga has managed to pay for 11 different TV spots, which have aired over a combined total of 34,000 times, according to a report from advertising intelligence company By comparison, Sony only paid for 3,000 ad views, while Microsoft more than doubled that with 7,500.

This may be due to the growth of the mobile market, which has generated more than $21 billion in revenue this year alone – and King plays a big part in that with its various social offerings. That would explain why other companies, like Supercell, Wargaming and Big Fish Games, are bumping up their efforts as well.

Supercell, which has been producing animated ads for its mobile hit Clash of Clans, has paid for 3,000 different TV spots, while Wargaming is close behind with 3,000 and Big Fish down to 1,000 – which still isn’t too shabby.

“We [would] spend, I would say on average, $100 million per quarter on paid marketing,” King chief financial officer Hope Cochran said, speaking during a Deutche Bank conference for investors. “And that has shifted, I would say, over the last couple of quarters, to — it was very mobile ad driven. And we’re still maintaining a strong presence there, but we do feel like we can reach a lot of our players through the cross-promo, and so we’ve been shifting those dollars to TV advertising over time.

Advertising costs can be a concern with companies, but considering that most of King’s releases remain in the top ten download sections for iOS and Android, it has no problem pushing out advertisements, even if the cost ran above $55 million in all. (That’s more than Microsoft spent with its $43 million Xbox campaign and Sony’s $30 million campaign, almost combined.)

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‘The Hunger Games’ Marketing Tie-Ins

With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 set to launch in theaters next month – and probably reach similar financial success as the previous films, thanks to main star Jennifer Lawrence – promotional companies have begun stepping up with tie-ins to the forthcoming blockbuster.

Lionsgate, the studio behind Hunger Games, announced various promotions today, including tie-ins with Doritos, Whole Foods Market’s Whole Planet Foundation and Mazda.

Doritos already has a program in place, working with Mazda on an app called “Our Leader the Mockingjay,” which will release on Apple and Android devices closer to the film’s release. In addition, specific bags of Doritos will feature Mockingjay-style themes, as well as codes that unlock new content within the app. An online sweepstakes will kick off shortly as well, with the grand prize being a trip to the U.S. premiere of the film.

Meanwhile, Mazda will be “the official automobile sponsor of the U.S. premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,” according to a statement from the company. The company will offer the ability to scan the Mazda logo to unlock exclusive content for the film, as well as a design contest through Tumblr where parties have a chance at winning a special hovercraft.

Finally, the Whole Planet Foundation will offer a charity tie-in, donating $1 to a fun for global antipoverty microcredits with the purchase of a container of Courage of One juice from the Whole Foods stores. A sweepstakes will also launch soon, where entrants have a chance to win tickets to the film, as well as gift cards for their stores.

No doubt each of these promotions will play a huge part with the film’s release, and bask in its success, as previous companies have done with other films in the series, including 2012’s immensely popular Catching Fire.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 hits theaters on November 21st.

Source: Deadline

Microsoft Preparing Cloud Event This Month

There have been whispers about Microsoft considering using cloud-based technology in its products for some time, whether it’s backwards compatible gaming with its Xbox consoles or some form of compatibility with its Windows mobile devices. But no one is sure what the plan is yet – but we’re about to find out.

The company has announced that an event will take place in San Francisco on October 20th, with a huge focus on both “cloud” and “Azure,” according to a brief news statement. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Azure boss Scott Guthrie will be in attendance to discuss what’s in store.

Microsoft has made waves in San Francisco before, holding an event earlier this year to showcase its recently announced Windows 10 update, with a number of journalists getting a look at the forthcoming operating system.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that San Francisco is getting some love from the company, as it’s becoming more of a “cloud center” of sorts when it comes to the storage of details, right alongside Seattle – which isn’t far from where Microsoft’s home base is located. So that makes it a proper location for the announcement, which, again, could be some sort of indication as to how cloud-based technology will be utilized by its devices.

Nadella didn’t appear for the Windows 10 event, so many are believing that this announcement could be a much bigger deal with his presence. Having Azure’s Guthrie also coming along could mean that something big could be announced – and may help the company find greater success in the coming year.

We here at [a]listdaily will recap the event upon its conclusion, letting you know what big announcements were made, as well as speculation in terms of what cloud-based technology could do for Microsoft’s tools of the trade. One thing’s for sure – you’ll want a good upload speed if you don’t have one already.

Source: TechCrunch

Scary New Oculus Rift Project

By generating a virtual reality in smooth running 3D, the Facebook-bought Oculus Rift enables experiences that users haven’t seen before. And for some developers, it’s a prime opportunity to create something unique – like something that could easily scare your pants off.

A new project from the University of Art and Design in Lausanne has surfaced, with interactive designer Simon de Diesbach working on something new with the Rift headset. With the new program, titled OccultUs, Diesbach looks to deepen the VR experience as we know it, using virtual reality with real-world sounds provided through a sound effects booth that’s nearby.

What’s the goal of the project? Simple – scare whoever’s using it. “With the OccultUs, I wanted to immerse the user in a sensory experience made up of two distinct realities blended together: the palpable reality of the ‘real’ world, and the simulated reality of VR,” de Diesbach explains.

Normally, Oculus VR-based projects enable the user to see a new world, while they can still hear what’s going on in the real one. With this project, however, sounds are muffled, forcing the user to become more vulnerable than with a usual game.

Pepsi Will ‘Do What Hollywood Can’t’ Via Digital Video

by Jessica Klein

Where Hollywood is failing to meet the needs of today’s content consumers, PepsiCo’s CMO of global consumer engagement, Frank Cooper III, says others in the entertainment world will pick up that slack. As he told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at its annual media conference, TheGrill, “If [Hollywood] doesn’t evolve, someone will fill that place of telling stories, especially across these new delivery systems.”

So who’s filling that storytelling space so far According to Cooper, it’s the likes of Maker Studios and Fullscreen… but it’s not their direction that PepsiCo brands are heading in when it comes to video content.

Maker and Fullscreen represent the aggregation content model, gathering creators and networks that needn’t have anything in common other than the fact that they put out popular videos. PepsiCo, on the other hand, is leaning towards a model that’s “about having a particular cultural point of view and then drawing in creators around that,” explained Cooper. He considers AwesomenessTV an example of this POV-first structure.

“Brands that are within the Pepsi system are moving more towards that model,” Cooper said, “because a brand has to stand for something…that’s where the action is for us.” Thus, PepsiCo is working on platforms where its brands can put out content under a certain cultural niche. Brands need to engage viewers with a story, these days, and PepsiCo’s will be telling theirs online.

A multitude of PepsiCo brands already have YouTube channels, from Pepsi (of course) and Lays to Gatorade and Starbucks.

Notably, the marketer also has a partnership with Maker Studios, an aggregator, to co-create branded content through the Labs@Maker program.That deal was announced during the MCN’s Newfront in May.

Here’s an excerpt of Cooper’s interview at TheGrill:


This Week’s [a]list Jobs – October 8

[a]listdaily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here.

Newzoo/Overwolf’s Top 20 PC Games For September

In June 2014, Newzoo and Overwolf launched a new monthly ranking service that gives insight into the popularity of individual PC games in the US and Europe. The ranking is based on number of unique sessions during a calendar month amongst millions of game enthusiasts that use Overwolf’s in-game software. This month we investigate session times in more depth and have a closer look at Turkey.

The September 2014 rankings show that the top 5 games of August 2014 remain unchallenged. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft remains at Number 5, with Valve’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive holding onto fourth position. Blizzard’s fifth World Of Warcraft expansion Warlords of Draenor will be launching on the 13th of November 2014, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on the November rankings after release. Wargaming’s F2P juggernaut World of Tanks holds steady at rank 3, having done so since May 2014. So far the $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang by Microsoft on the 15th of September has had no visible effect on Minecraft, which remains at the number two position. Riot Game’s League of Legends continues to remain at Rank 1, having done so for the 6 months Newzoo has published these rankings, clearly revealing not only a devoted and enthusiastic gamer fan base but the lasting power of competitive eSports titles.

MMO Eruption, Mod Disruption
There are a few outliers to the rankings as we move past the stable Top 5. As noted in our August 2014 Rankings, Trion World’s ArcheAge entered Beta and quickly moved into Rank 19 for that month. Following the official Western release of the game on Sept 16 (having been playable in Korea since January 2013) the MMO has erupted into the Top Ten Rankings, reaching Number 8. This is an interesting contrast to the other recently released MMO, NCSoft’s Wildstar, which entered our Rankings in June 2014 and subsequently disappeared. It’s worth pointing out that while ArcheAge is F2P, Wildstar is subscription based, strongly impacting the absolute number of gamers and unique sessions played.

As one title rises, another falls: Bohemia Interactive’s DayZ has fallen 8 places to Rank 14. Taking a broader look at the ranks we see an overall decline in titles that are Mods (or were Mods now stand alone titles) of existing games: Valve’s Garry’s Mod has fallen 2 places to Rank 13, with Valve’s Team Fortress 2 falling 1 spot to Rank 17. The overall movement of the Mod titles are relatively calm, indicating a core stability that comes from being player driven, community focused titles. Gaijin Entertainment’s War Thunder Beta has seemingly capitalized on its community driven popularity, continuing its climb that begin in August another 2 places to Rank 16.

WolfTeam Finds Unique Success in Turkey
As noted, League of Legends has dominated the Top 20 rankings for almost half of year, being the top title in most Western European countries. This is not the case in Turkey however, where it comes in at #4. Topping the charts is the MMOFPS Wolfteam, developed by AeriaGames (In fact, Turkey is one of the only country where Wolfteam features in the Top 20 Rankings). Wolfteam is followed by Mgame’s Knight Online and Valve’s Counter Strike: Condition Zero. The difference in unique session rankings between Turkey and the total U.S./ Europe is one of the reasons Newzoo drills down into regional market data, illustrating the importance of localization and regional specific insights.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Gamers Play Three Hours On End
Looking at the average game session time per title unearths some fantastic insights. It becomes immediately apparent that longer play sessions are not always an indicator of success: League of Legends at #1 has an average game session time of just under 32 minutes. Minecraft comes in higher at around 71 minutes while World of Tanks has an average game session time that is almost 4 times that of League of Legend’s: Around 129 minutes.

While the average session time for the Top 20 Ranked Games combined is 71mins, it’s more important to look at how time spend equates with genre and how it affects the overall Rankings. MMO titles have higher AVG session times than MOBA’s or FPS: World of Warcraft (~112 min) and Guild Wars 2 (~126min) versus Counter Strike: Global Offensive (~63min) and Dota 2 (~88 min). The Top 20 game with the highest average session time overall is naturally an MMO — Star Wars: The Old Republic with an average session time of just under 184 mins. These numbers clearly indicate the difference in game styles and time spend between different genres, revealing a deeper understanding of the time requirements (and restraints) of gamers that favour one genre over another. eSports and FPS gamers who play titles like League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter Strike are attracted to the quick action and fast instance times of the genre, whereas MMO gamers appreciate the longer character development time and exploration that are atypical for the MMO genre.

Overall this data underlines the importance of data segmentation into screens and genres as to furnish valuable, actionable gaming intelligence.

[a]listdaily Analysis by Steve Peterson
The more things change, the more they remain the same, as the top of the list is rock solid — but the bottom 15 titles are in ferment. It’s critical to remember that this list is all about time spent playing the game, which is not the same as sales at retail or sales of virtual content. Certainly most of these games are free-to-play, and most have a strong list of virtual goods for sale — but not all. Minecraft is purely based on retail sales with no virtual goods for sale at all, for instance, and World of Warcraft mostly relies on its subscriptions for revenue with very little virtual goods revenue.

When you look at the fact that Minecraft has such amazing numbers of hours played, you have to think Microsoft will be wondering how to turn that to their advantage. Of course, that would have to be done without killing demand for the game. Perhaps hosting Minecraft servers on Microsoft’s Azure, and bring that Wild West of Minecraft third-party companies under control of Microsoft There are many interesting possibilities, but Microsoft will probably take it’s time deciding how to proceed.

Roughly speaking, though, this index of time spent playing games shows you just how well various games are doing, and how well some aren’t. Despite all the early problems, and the move away from subscriptions, EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic is doing quite well. It seems reasonable to expect that the interest in the game will only increase as the new Star Wars movies get closer and the overall excitement for the IP rises.

Meanwhile, Hearthstone took a bit of a dip, which is surprising given the positive response to the recent Naxxramas expansion. Of course, some of that may be due to more players using iPads to play the game instead of PCs, simply because the form factor is much more convenient. Only Blizzard knows for sure, but it certainly seems that Hearthstone is quite popular still.

An interesting way to look at this is to see the correlation between the top PC titles in terms of play time, and the top games that are being streamed. Exactly where causation enters into this is unclear (does streaming get more people to play the games, or does more people playing mean more streaming ), but this correlation underscores the importance of streaming in today’s PC game market.

About Overwolf
Overwolf is a customizable in-game overlay platform that has been installed in over 8 million PCs. This community of hardcore PC gamers are consistently making their own apps within the Overwolf platform and sharing them. Why Because it’s super simple and it enhances the gameplay experience of anyone’s favorite title in a personal way. From in-game chat systems to customized controls, streaming or video capture, Overwolf allows users to implement their own visions into these games and do so in a timely manner.

About Newzoo
Newzoo is the leading global market research firm focused purely on the games market. The company provides its clients with a mix of primary consumer research, transactional data and financial analysis across all continents, screens and business models. It is also known for actively sharing a variety of insights by means of free trend reports, infographics, blogposts and monthly rankings. New zoo’s clients include Tencent, SEGA, Logitech, Wizards of the Coast, Nvidia, Microsoft, EA, Coca-Cola and Visa/PlaySpan.

Game Design And Branding

Even though developers can make a gaming hit out of nowhere with the right development prowess, Dots CEO Paul Murphy believes that an approach when it comes to applying the right stuff to a brand could go a long way into making a big game release even bigger.

Murphy recently supplied an opinion piece to GamesIndustry International, discussing the several aspects that go into finding the right brand approach for games.

TwoDots upended a lot of what our players had come to expect from our original mobile game, Dots,” said Murphy. “We added new game features – crafted levels, new characters, new items, new obstacles. We took some other features – certain game modes – away. We changed the model to a more traditional F2P, and we shouldered some light criticism for doing so.

“I honestly don’t think any of those decisions on their own have had or will continue to have much of an impact on the success of the Dots franchise,” he continued. Those are bullet points. Few people look back on a single gaming experience, competing in the mind with a hundred others, and fondly remember, ‘ahh, new play and monetization features.’

“As a developer, of all the assets you’ll create for your game, your brand – the set of features, in-game and out, which uniquely distinguish your creation – is perhaps the only one with the potential to really endure,” he said.

Later on in the article, Murphy touched on the importance of questions that need to be answered in a game’s development. “There are any number of examples we could use, but building a brand through development often comes down to the same core question: how can the work you’re doing now be capitalized on later ” he said. “Your game isn’t ready yet – but is it ready enough to begin an outreach campaign You may be struggling to get your game out on one device now, but what platforms might this experience thrive on a year or two down the road You don’t need to have the movie pitch drawn out or anything, but be mindful about what licensing opportunities your choice of story or characters or artwork offers. Are there other products – even other developers – that your brand might align with through cross-promotion

“Again, I realize how antithetical a brand-focused approach appears to the pure image of making games for the sake of games. But if anything, it’s the least cynical game-making model. Because it recognizes intrinsically that players have an overwhelming number of choices with their time and money, that their tastes are fickle, that revenue will come and go. Building a brand is aspirational – it means finding some core emotional link to form a relationship around and prioritizing a sustainable, meaningful experience over time, even if it comes at the expense of short-term profit,” said Murphy.

More on the subject can be found at this link, and he brings up some points that developers may want to look at in the future.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Holiday Trends Marketers Should Watch

With the holiday season right around the corner, there are already a number of hot items that are picking up in popularity. With that, marketers can take advantage of these trends if they just pay attention to the right ones, according to Think With Google. Here now are the site’s top five suggestions for hottest trends going into this holiday season…

Plenty of statistics indicate that mobile devices – and their coordinative apps – will definitely pick up on sales this forthcoming season. During late last year, almost 35 percent of all online traffic came from mobile devices, a 40 percent increase from the previous year.

In addition, sales of smartphones and tablets increased three times since 2011, with a 19.1 percent increase overall.

Those who use their smartphones for shopping rounded around 52 percent last year, according to a report from Google and Ipsos MediaCT, reported earlier this year.

Finally, 40 percent of shopping for Black Friday was done with mobile devices – a stat that’s likely to repeat this year.

Black Friday’s Going Grey
When it comes to Black Friday, some trends are changing, as some retailers prefer to start their promotions and sales earlier – even if that means in the midst of Thanksgiving Day itself.

Approximately 29 percent of shoppers prefer to look around before Halloween even rolls around, while 19 percent of customers actually don’t start until Black Friday/Cyber Monday. 48 percent don’t jump on the shopping bandwagon until December.

Finally, consumer interest in Black Friday has gone up, with a 27 percent year-over-year increase from 2012, according to Google Data.

As far as the top shopping day in the sales period, Black Friday still rules, although December 21st and 23rd come close behind, according to a 2013 MasterCard SpendingPulse report.

Spending time on shopping
Some buyers prefer impulse purchases, but a majority prefer taking their time, according to certain statistics.

For instance, the time spent on digital pages looking at items has increased over the past three years, going up from 3 hours and 11 minutes to 5 hours and 56 minutes this past year. Meanwhile, popular shopping categories like toys and home appliances have also gotten more attention, going from 9.9 to 12 hours and 13 to 15.8 hours respectively, according to the Ipsos MediaCT report.

Finally, in terms of references, shoppers generally go with at least 12 sources of information – more than double the five reported back in 2010.

Spending on the rise, even with a decrease of in-store purchases
When it comes to how purchases are made, the Wall Street Journal reported that foot traffic has decreased in stores, from 37 billion in 2010 down to 17 billion in 2013. However, spending is on the rise, with retail sales blooming from $681 billion to $783 billion in that same time frame – showing the power of virtual shopping.

During these purchases, 84 percent of smartphone shoppers actually used their device in a store to check for significant values, according to the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council and M/A/R/C/ Research.

Deals Aplenty
Finally, deals play a big part in purchases, as a number of retailers offer them quite often, even throughout the shopping weekend.

92 percent of shoppers actually check prices online before making their purchases, searching for the best money-savers. 91 percent of those polled believe that a low price is a huge selling point to scoring a monster deal as well. Free shipping is also a factor, coming up second place behind buying an item conveniently online, according to the Spring Planning Guide published earlier this year.

Finally, according to a study from comScore and UPS, 83 percent of online shoppers don’t mind waiting for delivery on an item, provided that a free shipping option is provided.

Source: Think With Google

Music Playing A Big Role For Brands

Brands have always played a part in the music industry, but as of late, they seem to play a much bigger role in how they’re implemented.

Licensing has actually seen a huge increase across both film and TV music, generating $322 million this past year. That number has since been eclipsed with $1.3 billion in sponsor spending for this year, and it’s still adding up over the next few months.

To discuss the matter further, Billboard recently hosted a discussion talking about the many roles that brands play when it comes to music. These parties included JPMorgan Chase’s head of sports and entertainment marketing Steve Pamon; drummer for the heavy metal band Metallica, Lars Ulrich; vice president of music and cultural experiences at Translation, Patience Ramsey; founder of Crush Management, Jonathan Daniel; executive vice president of brand partnerships and commercial licensing at Atlantic Records, Camille Hackney; and senior vice president of brand partnerships at SFX, Jennifer Frommer.

All four chapters can be viewed below, and run a total of 35 minutes overall. Each party discusses what kind of role brands play in today’s music scene, and it’s interesting to see what they all bring to the table, as they serve different roles, from hands-on with the instruments (in the case of Ulrich) to behind-the-scenes. Topics include improving the process, and where it makes sense to invest when it comes to certain aspects of the industry.

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While it is, at times, a lengthy discussion, it’s still fascinating to see all sides come together and eventually see where they end up. Certain examples also arise during the conversation, such as saying “yes” to the right branding opportunity – while at the same time avoiding the ones that don’t quite fit in the partnership.

Considering this panel’s reception, it’ll be interesting to see if Billboard holds more in the future, involving different parties from, again, various areas of the music industry.

Source: Adweek